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How Cities Around the US Are Raising Wages, In the Absence of Federal Action

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has announced an increase in his city’s minimum wage from $9 an hour to $13.25. While the new wage still falls short of the $15 an hour demand by unions and organized low-wage workers, and is spread out over 3 years rather than be effective immediately, the proposal put LA, the nation’s second largest city, on the list of a growing number of cities that have made income inequality a high priority. Garcetti had campaigned on, among other things, raising the minimum wage.

The cities of Seattle and SeaTac in Washington have passed laws raising their wages to at least $15, San Diego, Washington DC, and others have raised their wages to $11.50. Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel wants to raise his city’s minimum to $13 over the next 4 years. And in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to pass a statewide bill allowing municipalities to raise their minimum wages to $13 an hour.

President Obama has been championing a federal minimum wage of $10.10 an hour but has been stymied by Congressional deadlock. Business leaders and most Chambers of Commerce have pushed back with the usual arguments, that increasing the minimum wage would be bad for businesses, particularly small mom-and-pop operations, and would result in lost jobs, thereby hurting the very people the wages are meant to help. As Labor Day approaches on Monday, we examine the various struggles for decent wages in the US.

GUEST: Arun Ivatury, Campaign Strategist with the National Employment Law Project

Visit www.nelp.org and www.raisetheminimumwage.org for more information.